Korean Broadcasting System

Korean Broadcasting System (KBS)
Type Public Broadcasting
Country South Korea
Availability National
Worldwide (via KBS World)
Founded 16 February 1927 (1927-02-16) (as Kyeongseong Broadcasting Corporation)
3 March 1973 (1973-03-03) (as Public Broadcasting organization)
Slogan Fulfilling the People's Devotion Through Broadcasting
Headquarters Yeouido, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Owner Independent (publicly owned)
Key people
Ko Dae-young, President
Launch date
February 1927 (radio)
December 1961 (television)
Official website

Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) (Korean: 한국방송공사, Hanguk Bangsong Gongsa) is the national public broadcaster of South Korea. It was founded in 1927, and operates radio, television and online services, being one of the biggest South Korean television networks.

Korean name
Hanja 韓國放送公社
Revised Romanization Han-guk Bangsong Gongsa
McCune–Reischauer Han'guk Pangsong Kongsa


Beginnings in radio

KBS headquarters in Seoul

KBS began as Kyeongseong Broadcasting Corporation (JODK, 경성방송국, 京城放送局) that was established by the Governor-General of Korea on 16 February 1927. This second radio station started using the call sign HLKA in 1947 after the Republic of Korea got the call sign HL of the International Telecommunication Union. After doing a national broadcast, the radio was renamed Seoul Central Broadcasting Station in 1948.

1950s–1960s - Move into television

Television broadcasts in South Korea began on 12 May 1956 with the first television station HLKZ-TV. It was sold to KBS in 1961.

1970s - Expansion

KBS station status changed from government to public broadcasting station on 3 March 1973. Construction of KBS headquarters in Yeouido started in 1976. In 1979, KBS radio began broadcasting on the FM wave with the launch of KBS Stereo (Now KBS 1FM).

1980s - Advertising starts after controversial merger

KBS began accepting advertising in 1980, differing from the norm of advert-free broadcasting by public broadcasters, after the forced merger of several private broadcasters into KBS by the military government of Chun Doo-hwan, (see Controversies).

1990s - Spinoff of EBS

In 1981, KBS launched KBS 3TV and Educational FM, and on 27 December 1990, the channels split from KBS to form the Educational Broadcasting System (EBS).

After a revision of the television licensing fee system in 1994, KBS1 stopped broadcasting commercials.


KBS Cool FM Radio studios.
KBS regional broadcasting station in Changwon

KBS is a public corporation (공사, 公社) funded by the South Korean government and license fees, but managed independently. As part of the Constitution, the president of KBS is chosen by the President of South Korea, after being recommended by its board of directors. Political parties in South Korea also have the right to name members of the KBS board of directors.

Because of this system, which gives politicians effective control over choosing the president of KBS, as well as its board of directors, people who are critical of the system cite political intervention in KBS's governance as reason for revising the current system of recruiting .

Around 37.8% of KBS' revenue comes from a mandatory television licence fee of 2,200 won, with another 47.6% coming from commercial advertisement sales.[1]

KBS' international output such as KBS World, as well as specialised services such as KBS Radio 3 for the disabled, receive public funding from the South Korean government.


Terrestrial television

KBS1 and KBS2 phased out analogue services on December 31, 2012 as part of the switchover to digital television.

Cable and satellite television

These six channels are carried by cable and satellite operators in South Korea. There are 100+ Cable operators in South Korea and Skylife is the sole satellite television service provider. These channels are managed and operated by KBS N, a subsidiary company of KBS.





KBS World

Main article: KBS World

KBS World is the international television and radio service of KBS. It officially launched on July 1, 2003. It is broadcast on a 24hr schedule with programs ranging from news, sports, television dramas, entertainment, and children's. KBS World television is broadcast locally and around the world. As of July 2007, around 65% of its programs are broadcast with English subtitles, it is available in 32 countries, and reportedly more than 40 million households around the world can access KBS World. It has two overseas subsidiaries: KBS America and KBS Japan. KBS Japan is independently operated by a KBS subsidiary in Japan, and most programs are provided with Japanese subtitles.

KBS World television is a television channel that runs mostly programs commissioned for KBS' 2 terrestrial networks: KBS1 and KBS2. KBS World television is distributed over several international communication and broadcasting satellites such as IS-19, IS-20, IS-21, Measat 3, Apstar 6 & 7, Eutelsat Hotbird 13A, Galaxy 11, 18 & 23, Badr 6, Vinasat 1, Palapa D, SES 7, Telkom 1, Thaicom 5, EchoStar 15, Anik F3. Local cable and/or satellite operators receive the signal from one of these satellite and carry the signal to end subscribers of their own networks. KBS doesn't allow individual viewer to receive the signal from IS-19, IS-20, IS-21, Measat 3, Asiasat 5, and Galaxy 18. The signal from Badr 6 is Free-to-Air service while viewers using Eutelsat Hotbird 13A are required to pay monthly subscription fee.

Foreign partners

Partner Country
KBS World Global
Telefe Argentina
ABC and SBS Australia
VRT Belgium
SBT Brazil
CBC Canada
TVN Chile
CCTV China
Caracol Televisión Colombia
Ecuavisa Ecuador
France Televisions and TV5MONDE France
ARD Germany
TVB Hong Kong
NET., RCTI and TVRI Indonesia
RAI Italy
NHK and TBS Japan
8TV Malaysia
Televisa Mexico
Hulegu Pictures Mongolia
NPO Netherlands
TVNZ New Zealand
Panamericana Televisión Peru
GMA Network, ABS-CBN and TV5 Philippines
TVP Poland
RTP Portugal
VGTRK and Channel One Russia Russia
MediaCorp, StarHub TV and Singtel TV Singapore
SVT Sweden
TVE Spain
CTV and TTV Taiwan
Channel 5 and NBT Thailand
BBC United Kingdom
ABC, CBS, CNN, and PBS United States
TVes Venezuela
VTV Vietnam


KBS being one of Korea's oldest broadcasters, also had controversies like SBS and MBC, but has more controversies than the two broadcasters, which has given them nicknames such as Soonkyu Bangsong and The Department of Last Resort.

1980 - Forced merger of KBS with private broadcasters

During the Chun Doo-hwan regime of the eighties, the president passed a law to force several public broadcasters to merge with the public run KBS. After these broadcasters had shown news stories against Chun, he used this law to stifle their criticism of him. It included:

Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) was also affected. MBC was originally a federation of 20 loosely affiliated member stations located in various parts of Korea. Although they shared much of their programming, each member station was privately owned. After the consolidation, however, each affiliate was forced to give up majority of their shares to the MBC based in Seoul, and MBC Seoul, in turn, was forced to give up majority of its shares to KBS.[7]


In 2009, the president Lee Myung-bak said that the law was unconstitutional, and in 2011 TBC was revived as JTBC.

2002 - KBS 2FM advertisement scandal

KBS 2FM From 1980 until 2002 was prohibited to air commercial advertisements but in 2002 commercial advertisements resumed airing on KBS 2FM. The result KBS Local FM (a radio station owned by KBS used to re-transmit KBS 1FM and KBS 2FM) instead carried KBS 1FM programs even though KBS 2FM (05:00~07:00 KST) program like Fresh Morning and Good Morning Pops where aired due to that the two programs where prohibited to air advertisements excluding those of KOBACO (Korea Broadcast Advertising Corporation). However Park Myeong-su's Radio Show is aired (including commercials) on local KBS Happy FM stations in Busan, Changwon, Cheongju, Daejeon and Jeju starting April 2016 this was due to its popularity and despite Happy FM Does not air any commercials in all of its programs, Also Park Ji-yoon's Gayo Plaza is aired in all Happy FM stations starting September 2016 for the same reasons.

2010 - KBS2 blackout

In January 16, 2010, a dispute broke out between KBS and the Korea Cable TV Association (KCTA) over retransmission fees. The KCTA sought to push down fees from major broadcasting channels like KBS for retransmitting their programs through cable. KBS had demanded 280 won per subscriber, while the cable TV system operators (or ‘SOs’) wanted no more than 100 won. Negotiations reached a standstill, and so the SOs decided to make KBS2 programs unavailable to viewers starting from 3:00 p.m. KST. The SOs stopped transmitting both standard-definition (SD) and high-definition (HD) signals from the KBS2 channel. This meant that unless TV viewers had alternative viewing methods such as the Internet or terrestrial TV, they saw a blackout message. Having lost a substantial amount of their viewers, KBS2's programs experienced a major decline in their ratings. Following the blackout, the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) has ordered the SOs to resume transmission or face a hefty fine. The SOs initially refused, but on January 17, they agreed to resume KBS2 transmissions, ending the 28-hour blackout.[9]

2011 - Wiretapping scandal at TV license fee meeting

In 2011, Sohn Hak-kyu, the chairman of the opposition Democratic Party, accused KBS of wiretapping the party's closed-door meeting on TV subscription charges.[10]

Sohn said that “We believe the firm bugged the meeting to secure information about our party's handling of the TV subscription policy. KBS should admit that it resorted to the deplorable method of gathering information.”

The ruling Grand National Party initially sought to put a bill concerning the TV subscription charge to a vote, but failed to do so amid strong opposition from the Democrats.

The National Assembly's subcommittee on culture, tourism, broadcasting and communication, was scheduled to deliberate on June 28, 2011, but the meeting was cancelled due to the Democrats' protest.

The scandal erupted on June 23 when Han Sun-kyo, chairman of the parliamentary subcommittee, criticized the Democrats' opposition to increasing the TV subscription charge during a subcommittee meeting.

The GNP lawmakers eventually approved a bill raising the charge by 1,000 won to 3,500 won at a subcommittee meeting in the absence of Democrat lawmakers. That led to a Democrat boycott of a June extraordinary parliamentary session for half a day on June 21, 2011.

2011 - Praising Chinilpa

Bak Han-yong (박한용), head of the Institute for Research in Collaborationist Activities, criticized KBS for censoring negative remarks from a documentary about Chinilpa individuals and Rhee Syngman who had pardoned them.[11] This includes the Chinilpa Paik Sun-yup.[12]

2011 - Girl groups cheating on charts

Music Bank also received a lot of negative criticisms for its allegedly unfair chart ranking system. It was revealed by an insider that entertainment companies were bulk-buying massive numbers of their artists' albums to achieve an "all-kill" status and reach the number one spot on the music program that even rookie groups can manage to win first place award, but Music Bank didn't do anything to stop the act. It was always believed that rookie groups normally don't have a huge fanbase, but Brave Girls managed to top digital music charts in Korea.[13]

2012 - KBS journalists strikes and Reset KBS News 9

The journalists working for KBS (along with MBC, SBS and YTN) have protested against the biased journalism practices that favor the Lee Myung-bak government.[14][15][16] The new union for KBS headed by Kim Hyeon-seok released a video clip Reset KBS News 9 (리셋 KBS 뉴스9) on the internet that discusses the Prime Minister's Office Civilian Surveillance Incident and the controversial money-spending on renovating President Lee Myung-bak's alleged birth house on March 13, 2012.[17]

2013 - Lee Soon-shin naming scandal

Global Youth League DN filed an injunction at Seoul Central District Court against broadcaster KBS for using the name "Lee Soon-shin" in the title of the drama. The injunction requested that the broadcast be halted immediately, that "Lee Soon-shin" is removed from the title and the character name changed. The group claimed that historical figure Lee Soon-shin (or Yi Sun-sin), an admiral famed for his victories against the Japanese Navy in the Imjin War during the Joseon Dynasty, is an official national symbol whose status will "deteriorate" when associated with the "weak and clumsy" protagonist that lead actress IU plays.[18][19][20][21] KBS and production company A Story responded that they have no plans of changing the title or character name. Instead, they altered the original drama poster where several cast members are sitting on a pile of 100 won coins that have an image of Admiral Yi, by digitally replacing the coins with a plain gold platform.[22][23]

2014 - KBS strike against pro-government bias of its president

In early May 2014, Gil Hwan-young removed the KBS news chief after alleged improper remarks over the sinking of the Sewol ferry. The chief then accused Gil of interference with news editing, with an alleged pro-government bias.

After the board postponed a decision on whether or not to dismiss Gil, two of the broadcaster's largest unions went on strike.

As a result of the boycott, most of the broadcaster's news output was affected. The hour-long KBS News 9 ran for just 20 minutes, and during local elections on June 4, 2014, KBS was unable to send reporters to interview candidates.

The strike ended after the board of directors voted to dismiss Gil. The board passed a motion on June 5, 2014 demanding the discharge of President Gil. The majority vote decision was sent to be approved by the country's president Park Geun-hye, who has the power to appoint the broadcaster's head.[24][25][26]

2016 - KBS's 'Music Bank' mistake regarding the winner

For the May 27 episode of “Music BankTWICE and AOA competed for number one. At the end of the show, AOA was announced as that week’s winner, with 6,400 points for their latest track “Good Luck.”

Since then, there has been controversy over AOA’s win, with many finding the album scores problematic. “Music Bank” calculates the winner based on four factors – digital sales (65 percent of total score), viewer votes (10 percent), broadcast scores (20 percent), and album sales (5 percent).

For album sales scores, KBS had:

Jessica – 37,710 albums for 1,925 points

AOA – 20,990 albums for 1,600 points

MONSTA X – 19,570 albums for 999 points

Woohyun – 17,740 albums for 890 points

I.O.I – 13,420 albums for 1,523 points

TWICE – 4,380 albums for 223 points

The scores were strange because MONSTA X sold more than I.O.I, but I.O.I was given 1,523 points, while MONSTA X got a lower number – 999 points. MONSTA X also only had 2,000 album difference in album sales from AOA, but the point difference was over 600. When you compare the other scores, the proportion doesn’t add up.

KBS admitted there was an error made by the person in charge of the scores as they were inputing them into the excel sheet. It apologized for the error, saying, “It is clearly KBS’s fault” and that “it will do its best to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.”

With KBS recalculating the scores, 1 – 10 are:

  1. TWICE – “Cheer Up”
  2. AOA – “Good Luck”
  3. Jessica - “Fly (Feat. Fabolous)”
  4. Jung Eun Ji – “Hopefully Sky (Feat. Harim)”
  5. I.O.I – “Dream Girls”
  6. Akdong Musician – “RE-BYE”
  7. Tiffany – “I Just Wanna Dance”
  8. Woohyun – “Nod Nod”
  9. Eddy Kim – “Lips Like Warm Coffee”
  10. MONSTA X – “All In"[27][28]

Producer Shin Mi Jin of KBS said to OSEN that they will not be taking the trophy away from AOA to give to TWICE. Instead, TWICE will be getting a new trophy. Producer Shin stated, “What’s important is not the physical trophy, but comforting the members of TWICE and AOA, who were hurt with this mixup.[29][30]

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Korean Broadcasting System.


  1. KBS Annual Report 2006-2007, KBS, 2007.(As mentioned on page 30)
  2. 1 2 3 "Channel Info". KBS English. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  3. "Broadcasting Tests Begin for Ultra High Definition". KBS English. 31 March 2014. Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  4. "KBS Launches Children's Channel". Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union. 2012-05-29.
  5. "Korea debuts cable channel dedicated to women". Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union. 25 January 2013. Retrieved 25 January 2013.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Channel Info". KBS English. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  7. "Media Strike in Korea". Ask a Korean!. June 12, 2012. Retrieved September 14, 2014.
  8. Park, In-Kyu (2005). "Public service broadcasting in the market place: the BBC and KBS in the 1990s." (PDF).
  9. "Cable TV operators end 28-hour KBS blackout". onekpop.com. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  10. DP leader hits KBS for alleged wiretapping. The Korea Times Retrieved on 2014-04-09.
  11. Cho (조), Hyeon-ho (현호) (2011-06-07). "KBS는 정권재창출 위한 독재자·친일파 방송". MediaToday (in Korean). Retrieved 2011-06-23.
  12. Cho (조), Hyeon-ho (현호) (2011-06-25). "KBS 친일파를 영웅으로···시청자 '경악' "친일방송축하"". MediaToday (in Korean). Retrieved 2011-07-13.
  13. KBS Music Bank under fire, girl groups cheating on charts? - seoulbeats | seoulbeats. Seoulbeats.com (2011-04-25). Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  14. "SKorea journalists protest alleged pro-gov't bias". Associated Press. 2012-03-19. Retrieved 2012-03-22.
  15. "Massive Media Strike in South Korea". Sampsonia Way. 2012-04-25. Retrieved 2014-04-09.
  16. "Special Show to Celebrate the Retirement of Parachute Executives". WORLDYAN NEWS. 2012-03-19. Retrieved 2014-04-09.
  17. Cho (조), Hyeon-ho (현호) (2012-03-14). 이명박 태어나지도 않은 생가에 혈세 펑펑. MediaToday (in Korean). Retrieved 2012-03-21.
  18. Kim, Tong-hyung (12 March 2013). "Group protests IU's TV drama". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  19. Kim, Ji-yeon (12 March 2013). "Korean drama sued over title". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  20. Lee, Sun-min (12 March 2013). "Group protests Lee Soon Shin drama". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  21. Choi, Eun-hwa (12 March 2013). "You′re the Best Lee Soon Shin Gets KBS Involved in Another Title Controversy". enewsWorld. CJ E&M. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  22. '최고다이순신' 동전포스터, 어떻게 바뀌었나?. TV Report (in Korean). 18 March 2013. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
  23. Lee, Sun-min (19 March 2013). "After outcry, KBS alters drama poster". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
  24. KBS unions on strike demanding CEO's resignation. NHK Retrieved on 2014-04-09.
  25. Boycott at KBS leads to shortening of programs. NHK Retrieved on 2014-04-09.
  26. KBS board OKs dismissal of chief. NHK Retrieved on 2014-04-09.
  27. "'뮤뱅', 음반점수 오류 인정…"트와이스 1위, AOA는 2위"". Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  28. http://www.kbs.co.kr/2tv/enter/musicbank/notice/index.html?bbs_pr=/mode:2/seq:973094/goto_page:1
  29. "'뮤뱅' PD "트로피보다 마음 다친 AOA·트와이스 위로가 먼저" [종합]". Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  30. Jeong, G. (29 May 2016). "KBS Admits Mistake In "Music Bank" Winner, TWICE Is No.1, AOA Is No. 2". Retrieved 28 November 2016.

External links

Coordinates: 37°31′31″N 126°54′59″E / 37.52538°N 126.916361°E / 37.52538; 126.916361

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